A group of residents in northern Morada are concerned that their water rates could triple if San Joaquin County has its way.
Residents in the North Morada Estates and Wilkinson subdivisions will face an annual water fee of about $4,500, three times the present rate, if the Board of Supervisors approves a recommendation by its public works staff, according to Lou Meyer, a North Morada Estates residents who actively opposes the proposed rate increase.
County Supervisor Ken Vogel and Deputy Public Works Director Steve Winkler explained the proposal at last week's meeting of the Morada Municipal Advisory Council.
Currently, property owners in the two subdivisions, known as County Service Area 46, pay a $1,500 flat fee annually. The county proposes reducing the flat rate to $848 per year, but add a $1.03 charge for every 1,000 gallons of water used.
"With that, there will be winners and losers," Winkler said in a phone interview.
Meyer said he hasn't found any "winners."
In fact, he estimates that the $848 flat fee and $1.03 charge based on usage will increase rates to about $4,500 per year.
Some property owners only read the part of the county's notice about the $844 flat fee, which caused them to think their rates are decreasing, Meyer said.
"The community has woken up," he said.
Homes in the neighborhood, in the area of Eight Mile Road and Oakwilde Avenue, sit on 1.5-acre lots, Meyer said. Most of them have lush landscaping. Many homes have trees surrounding their property and swimming pools.
"In July, August and September, you have to put a lot of water on them to keep it from turning brown," said Meyer, who has lived in Morada since 1996.
About 50 percent of Morada, which extends roughly from Eight Mile Road to Hammer Lane, is on meters. The community is carved into nine county water districts with a total of 13 wells in the community, Winkler said. Morada has about 800 water customers.
The county is proposing the new rates under a Proposition 218 voting system, which means that a protest vote is required for the proposal to be defeated. Meyer plans to circulate a petition opposing the rate increase, and several residents plan to attend the Board of Supervisors' public hearing on March 13.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.